Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Misfortune of being a Female in Kashmir

Two articles in the Rising Kashmir cover a broad canvass of emotions in describing challenges facing females in Kashmir. The third and the last article from the Kashmir Images is one of hope and exuberance

Female foeticide on rise in Valley: Report

Srinagar: Female foeticide is on rise in Kashmir, a study conducted by a lecturer of Kashmir University reveals.

Gulafroz Jan, a lecturer in the Department of Law, KU conducted a socio legal analysis on female foeticide in Kashmir surveying 15 diagnostic centres.

However only two of these centres confirmed that they conducted prenatal sex determination tests while 10 answered in negative and three preferred not to respond.
Jan in her research asked hundred expectant mothers if they had done any prenatal sex determination tests and abortions among which 10 respondents said yes.
According to the research, out of these 10 respondents, five were indulging in female foeticide for the first time while two were on anvil of aborting the female foetus for the second time.

Some of the expecting women said female child was a burden. “The girl child is subjected to sexual exploitations. It has to be protected and guarded always,” the research quoted some women as saying while others said they were aborting the female foetus as they already had two or more daughters.

The researcher said women from the upper middle class were carrying more abortions. However women from rustic and lower income groups were also found to be in the race.
Around 60 per cent of women surveyed in the study were housewives and 40 percent were working women.

In the research hundred expectant mothers were asked if they knew about sex determination. An overwhelming 70 per cent responded said yes and added that it was performed by simple sonography.

“Nearly 76 per cent of women knew about illegality of these tests,” Jan said.
The data in the research reveals that the tests were conducted in government hospitals as well as private nursing homes while others went outside the state.
Forty per cent women said their husbands and in-laws exerted force on them to abort the female foetus while 20 per cent said both the husband-wife duo were willing. Ten per cent of the respondents said it was their own choice.

However an overwhelming majority of the respondents termed the practice bad and immoral.

Khurshidul Islam, a sociologist termed the phenomenon as disturbing. “It’s an impact of other cultures. It is pity that having a girl child is considered a burden in the changing socio economic dynamics of our society,” he said. “The spurt in atrocities on women and their coverage of these issues in media is also contributing to the factor.”

Meanwhile, according to sources, the two centres conducting illegal prenatal sex determination operate in city outskirts.

The sources said these unrecognized clinics conduct nearly 20 tests a day, some on the medical advice and others at the behest of the individual couples.

Eve-teasing: a growing menace

A student of 7th standard (Sheena) name changed is followed by a middle aged man to her home from school continuously for a month. He tries to convince the girl to accompany him and when he failed, he starts to threaten the girl of dire consequences.

This frightens the innocent girl and she starts making excuses to stay at home. When the parents finally notice the trouble their daughter faces, they came to rescue and saved the girl. This is one among hundred cases of eve-teasing which is a growing social menace in our society.

Eve-teasing is used as a euphemism for molestation and harassment of women by men. However, a euphemism is not enough to lessen the severity of this crime which ranges from obscene gestures to sexually suggestive remarks. It is prevalent in almost all the societies of the World and its consequences and implications are a matter of serious concern.

In conservative societies like Kashmir, eve-teasing instills fear among females and causes mental and emotional trauma. As women here are not very vocal enough, the victim mostly suffers silently and at times develops self inhibiting behaviour. She feels guilty for a fault committed by others and tries to hide it from people around. In case of young immature girls, by the time they realize what is being done to them, they are already victimized.

In Kashmir, the situation has perpetuated over the years and women have suffered and are still suffering at the hands of such uncouth men. The undesirable attention shown by males towards females is acting as an irritant in the lives of women who leave their homes every morning to lend a helping hand in improving the overall condition of our society. It is not only School and College going teenagers or working young ladies, but even middle and old aged women don’t feel safe from this criminal act. Eve-teasers won’t spare any-one. In buses, on bus stops, around educational institutions, market places and even work places of women, these uncivilized creatures never miss a chance to harass females. The usual methods used to irk women include whistles, physical touch, physical advances, and passing comments. Some go4es to the extent of shouting at them and embarrasses the victims to their spine.

The situation is equally intense in other places in India and the women of the valley are in constant fear that some mishap might happen to them as well. Shyness and fragility made them more vulnerable to such incidents. Females here lack the confidence to retaliate if somebody approaches them.

The lack of awareness about these dastardly crimes worsens the situation. Lack of interaction with males also aggravates the problem. Girls don’t know how to react or handle men around them to judge their intentions. Women here lack basic self-defense techniques as they never get training or counseling as how to deal with under such circumstances.

The situation can be handled only if society and not women are sensitized about the whole issue. Women deserve all the respect and regard if the in the society has to function smoothly.

The biggest responsibility falls on the shoulders of parents and teachers, as they act as role models for younger generation. If a child is given proper moral teachings right from childhood, it will definitely reflect in his personality. In modern times the responsibility increases more on Parents as the means of communication and abundant growth of media has drastically affected the psyche of our young generation.

Awareness, education, moral and religious education seem the only solutions for this grave problem. Mass sensitization will awake the conscience of every individual of the society. But it needs to be accepted that eve-teasing is just an element of huge hitch that has cropped up in the structure of the society. Good and active effort on part of all conscientious people of society will help women to feel secure. Then they can lace themselves with confidence, knowledge and strength and so can have courage to self-guard themselves.

Matriculation topper says hard work is secret of her success

Baramulla: In our contemporary society although parents feel dismayed over having a girl child but girls too can prove to be better than boys.

And those who still regret having daughters should meet Anjuman Jeelani Toogo of apple town Sopore who topped the matriculation exams in Kashmir province bring pride not only her grand parents but to the whole Baramulla district.

Scripting her success story, Anjuman, 16, a student of St. Joseph School Baramulla, secured 489 marks out of 500 to bag first position in the Kashmir Valley in matriculation exams conducted by Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education.

Anjuman believes that hard work pays off in the long run if one is dedicated and committed to do and her secret of success is hard work.

Anjuman was conferred a trophy and Academic Achievement Certificate 2008 by Minster of state for PHE and Irrigation Flood Control Taj Mohi-ud-din on Republic Day function in Baramulla.

While talking to ‘Kashmir Images’, after receiving the award, she said, "I feel very happy at this moment and this the happiest day in life till now as I was successful to turn my dream into reality."

Since her grand success in matriculation, Anajuman had very busy time with friends, relatives and media persons.

When asked whom she owes her success and the inspirations, she said, "First of all I would like to thank Almighty Allah for showering His blessings upon me. I credit my success to my grandparents, many many thanks to my uncle Sir Mujtuba and heartfelt thanks go all teachers in St. Joseph school Baramulla who taught me from last 13 years."

"From Nursery to this class my teachers always showed me the way. I always stood first in class. By bagging the first position I have made my teachers proud," said Anjuman whose father, Ghulam Jeelani Tukoo is a police inspector and mother Mehbooba Jeelani, a government teacher.

Adopted by her grandparents when she was 6-months-old baby, Anjuman said that hard work was key to success and she couldn't have make topped the exams without her grandparents support. "Even if you are intelligent you have to work hard to strive for aim. Hard work is key to success," she said.

"Since my childhood my grandparents too care of me and from six class I was guided and supported by my uncle who helped lot," added she.

She said that to study for six hours daily was a routine for her. "I used to study from 5pm to 11pm everyday. Chalking out a study schedule helped me and I didn't feel any pressure during the exam days," she added.

When asked what she wanted to be in the life, Anjuman said, ""Basically for me it was not hard to decide what you want to be. I wanted to be prominent cardiologist to serve my society."

Anjuman’s grandfather, Abdul Wahid Tugoo, a retired teacher, says, "Since we adopted her both I and my wife strived to bring her up. I used to perch her on my shoulders taking him school as there was less transport available here."

"Today my entire fatigue has vanished and we both feel proud of her," Wahid who accompanied her.

Anjuman's grandmother Fatima said, "I fed her with cow's milk as we adopted her soon after she was born. I feel as if I have performed Hajj."

Pertinent to mention here, a total of 40,145 students including 22,243 boys and 17,902 girls had appeared in the annual examination held in November-December 2008. The over all pass percentage stands at 62.30 per cent with 65.64 per cent boys and 58.39 percent girls passing the exam. Among them, 5139 passed with distinction, 10,302 with 1st division and 9567 with second division.

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